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The Baseball Ground
Former names Ley's Baseball Ground (until c. 1895)
Location Derby
Coordinates 52°54′17″N 1°28′7″W / 52.90472°N 1.46861°W / 52.90472; -1.46861Coordinates: 52°54′17″N 1°28′7″W / 52.90472°N 1.46861°W / 52.90472; -1.46861
Broke ground 1889
Opened 1890
Closed 2003
Demolished 2003-2004
Owner Sir Francis Ley (until 1924)
Derby County F.C. (from 1924)
Operator Ley's Malleable Castings Vulcan Ironworks (until 1896)
Derby County F.C. (from 1896)
Surface Grass
Architect Sir Francis Ley
Capacity 4,000 (original capacity)
42,000 (highest capacity, 1969-1980)
18,300 (capacity at closure)
Tenants
Derby County Baseball Club (1890-1898)
Derby County F.C. (1895-1997)
Derby County F.C. Reserves (1895-2003)

The Baseball Ground was a stadium in Derby, UK. It was first used for baseball as the home of Derby County Baseball Club from 1890 until 1898 and then for football as the home of Derby County F.C. from 1895 until 1997. It was commonly referred to as the "BBG".[1]

As the name suggests, the stadium was originally used for baseball. It was originally called Ley's Baseball Ground and was part of a complex of sports grounds (Ley's Recreation Ground) built and owned by businessman Sir Francis Ley for workers at his foundry, Ley's Malleable Castings Vulcan Ironworks. The stadium was the focal point of the complex and was part of a personal quest by Ley to introduce baseball to the UK.

The stadium was home to Derby County Baseball Club, which was allied to the more famous football club. The club ran away with the first championship after the National Baseball League of Great Britain and Ireland was established in 1890. However, pressure from other teams in the league over the number of American players Derby used forced them to resign at the end of the league's first season, though the baseball club itself lasted until 1898.

Derby County Football Club had occasionally used the stadium for their home matches and, with their partner baseball club in decline, made it their permanent home in 1895 and renamed it The Baseball Ground. A party of Gypsies were forced to move and legend has it that before leaving they put a curse on the ground preventing Derby County winning the F.A. Cup. The ground became the property of the club in 1924 when it was purchased from Ley for £10,000.

At its height, the Baseball Ground could accommodate around 42,000 spectators. The record attendance was 41,826 for a match against Tottenham Hotspur in 1969. Later, the stadium was slowly converted to become all-seater from terracing and the capacity eventually dropped to 18,300 - inadequate for the ambitions of Derby County, who were an ambitious side chasing promotion to the Premier League during the early to mid 1990s, finally achieving it as Division One runners-up in 1996.

The stadium featured two 3-tier stands at either end, both with the lowest tier not facing completely straight towards the pitch (due to the previous configuration for baseball) giving a wedge-like appearance at one end. Also, in one corner was a unique stand that was more house-like, mainly for media use.

Derby County remained at the stadium until 1997, when they relocated to the Pride Park Stadium. The relocation plan had only been unveiled some 18 months before the new stadium was opened - chairman Lionel Pickering had originally planned to boost Derby's stadium capacity by rebuilding it with a 26,000-seat format. The last league match to be played there was a Premier League fixture against Arsenal, though the stadium continued to be used for reserve team games for a few seasons afterwards. In late 2003, the Baseball Ground was finally demolished to make way for housing.

The Baseball Ground was once used for an international match: England beat Ireland 2-1 in a British Home Championship match on February 11, 1911.

References

  1. ^ "Goodbye BBG". bbc.co.uk. 2003-05. http://www.bbc.co.uk/derby/features/tours/bbg/tour.shtml. Retrieved 2009-11-19.  

External links

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